Southeast Missouri State University Press


Announcing the winner of the 2022 Cowles Poetry Prize

We’re excited to announce the winner of our 2022 Cowles Poetry Prize. We received a *ton* of fantastic submissions this year. In fact, this year we received more submissions than we ever have before. It was a pleasure to read and think about all of these manuscripts. 

The winning manuscript was picked by our final judge, and previous prize winner, Rachel Hinton, from a set of manuscripts painstakingly selected by our initial readers. Here are the results: 


A Ribbon the Most Perfect Blue by Christine Kwon

Christine Kwon writes poetry and fiction and lives in a yellow shotgun house in New Orleans. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Recluse, Hot Pink Mag, The Yale Review, Sweet Mammalian, Joyland Magazine, Apocalypse Confidential, The Columbia Review, Recliner Mag, and X-Ray, among other places. Born in Queens, New York, and raised in New Jersey, she holds a BA from Yale and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A Ribbon the Most Perfect Blue will be published in 2023!


This Smile is Starting to Hurt by Dylan Loring
Lavish Cruelty by Katie Jean Shinkle
Keeping in the Dark by Noah Stetzer
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen


Happy Everything by Caitlin Cowan
Whipsaw by Suzanne Frischkorn
The Continuing Book by Robert Okaji
Inside the Golden Hunting Years by Delaney Olmo
A Grito Contest in the Afterlife by Vincent Rendoni
Night Swimming by Liz Robbins
Variable of Uncertain Effect by Matthew Schmidt
Steady, Girl by Leona Sevick
Family, Extended by Mark Smith-Soto
I’d Rather Be Lightning by Nancy Woo

Announcing the Winners of the 2021 Cowles Poetry Book Prize

We’re thrilled to announce the winner and finalists for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Prize. Our dedicated readers and interns spent countless hours reading many (so many!) fantastic manuscripts. The competition was fierce, and we passed along twenty manuscripts to our final judge, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, who narrowed down the list to a top five, from which she selected this year’s winner. We are so incredibly grateful you all trust us with your vital, magnificent work. And of course, we’re already accepting submissions for the 2022 contest. Without further ado, then, our winner, shortlist, and longlist:

Winner: Gold Hill Family Audio by Corrie Lynn White

Corrie Lynn White’s poetry has appeared in Oxford AmericanNew Ohio ReviewBest New PoetsMid American Review, and Mississippi Review, among other places. Originally from Gold Hill, North Carolina, she holds a BA from UNC Chapel Hill and an MFA from UNC Greensboro. She currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she works as a journalist and was named the 2021 Tennessee Arts Commission Fellow in Poetry. Gold Hill Family Audio will be published in fall, 2022!


bad prayer by Katie Berta
Dear Daughter, by Ellen Kombiyil
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen


Out of Nowhere: Poems by Susan Comninos
star vehicle (the year i moved to st. louis) by Charlotte Covey
Happy Everything by Caitlin Cowan
A Suit of Paper Feathers
by Nate Duke
Cry Perfume
by Sadie Dupuis
Whipsaw by Suzanne Frischkorn
Swan Hammer: An Instructor’s Guide to Mirrors by Maggie Graber
No Spare People by Erin Hoover
This Smile is Starting to Hurt by Dylan Loring
History Lesson by Todd Osborne
Steady, Girl by Leona Sevick
Black Don’t Crack by Valerie Smith
On Main Street by Alex Turissini
Notes on Silence and Noise by Suzanne Wise
pH of Au by Vanessa Couto Johnson

Once again, thank you all for trusting us with your work! It’s truly an honor.

Announcing the winner of the 2020 Nilsen Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of the 2020 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. The winning manuscript will be published, and the author will receive $2,000. Thank you to everyone who entered! It was an honor and a pleasure to read your words. The 2021 contest is open at:

Winner: Juan Eugenio Ramirez – The Man with Wolves for Hands

Though born in Washington state, Juan Eugenio Ramirez spent most of his formative years in Florida. Having taught both middle school and high school these past fifteen years, Juan holds an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA from Florida State University. His work has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Armchair/Shotgun, and Madcap Review. He currently teaches high school English at St. Francis School, an independent, progressive education school in Louisville, Kentucky.


Michael Chaney – The Cartoonal and You
Kevin Clouther – Maximum Speed
Diane Josefowicz – Easy Journeys to Other Planets
Ben Miller – Meanwhile in the Dronx
Thomas Pyun – The Beginning of Our End
Jessica Savitz – Television in the Mountains
Evelyn Somers – Katybomb, Katybomb
Derek Updegraff – Whole
Rebecca Wurtz – The Mapmaker’s Body

Announcing the Winner of the 2020 Cowles Poetry Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of our 2020 Cowles Poetry Book Prize. The winning book will be published, and the winning poet will receive $2,000. We saw so many amazing manuscripts this year, and it was difficult to narrow down a list to send to our final judge, Emma Bolden. Thank you all for your interest in this contest! Without further ado, then, here is the winner, and then the finalists:

Winner: Hospice Plastics by Rachel Hinton

Originally from Vermont, Rachel Hinton holds an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA from Kenyon College. Her poems have appeared in The Boiler, Cimarron Review, the Denver Quarterly, SOFTBLOW, the Tahoma Literary Review, and other journals. She has previously taught courses at DePaul University, and currently works as an editor and content development manager in Chicago. Of Hinton’s manuscript, final judge Emma Bolden writes “This book absolutely hums and it’s so powerful, every line of it, and the way the author uses language astounds and amazes me.”


Thief by Jennifer Miller
Thunderhead by Emily Cole
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen
Tell This to the Universe by Katie Prince


Bad Prayer by Katie Berta
Hands Pull You Apart by Emily Jaeger
Ode to the Earth in Translation
by George Looney
This Smile Is Starting to Hurt
by Dylan Loring
“Every Slow Thing” by Daniel Lusk
Eject City by Jason Morphew
Night Swimming by Liz Robbins
by Rebecca Schumejda
The Water Bear by Margaret Young
Portrait Miniatures by James K. Zimmerman

Announcing the Winner of the 2019 Nilsen Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of the 2019 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. The winning manuscript will be published, and the author will receive $2,000. Thank you to everyone who entered! It was an honor and a pleasure to read your words. The 2020 contest is open (at a lower price!) at:


Elizabeth Engelman – The Way of the Saints

Elizabeth Engelman is a recipient of the Marianne Russo Award and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Grant to Ireland. She was a 2019 top-ten finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Lab Prize, and her essays have appeared in The New York Times and Endeavor Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Tampa, an M.A. in Poetry from Lancaster University, and a B.A. from Carson-Newman University. Her poems have been published in Yale’s literary & art journal LETTERS, as well as the Riverside Center’s Anthology of Poetry. She lives with her family in St. Augustine, Florida, where she works at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. 

“The Way of the Saints is a multi-generational, historical collection of short stories, based on the author’s family and her personal experiences as the daughter of a Santeria priestess. The linked stories in the collection tell of three generations of Puerto Rican women: Paula, Isabel, and Esther as they navigate Puerto Rico’s Independence movement of the 1930’s, life in the 1950’s tenements of New York, and the opulence of 1980’s Westchester.”


Polly Buckingham – Long White Robe
Kevin Frey – A Walking Tour of Antananarivo with the Ghost of Jean-Joseph

Jeremy Griffin – Odessa
Kate McIntyre – Mad Prairie
Matthew Pitt – The BeEverything! Brothers

Southeast Missouri State University Press: SLOW ORDER FULFILLMENT


Just a quick note to let you know that, while campus is slowly reopening, we’ll still be slower to ship orders than usual over the summer. You’re welcome to continue ordering from us, and please know that we’ll be fulfilling them as quickly as we can, but we won’t be on campus quite as much for the time being.

We appreciate your understanding at this time and we’ll see you on the flipside. Until then, be safe and keep social distancing.


James Brubaker

Big Muddy Announces Winner and Finalists of Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists for the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest. The winner will be published in the upcoming issue of Big Muddy, and will receive $500. Picking a winner this year was quite difficult due to the many, many, many excellent stories we received. 

This year’s winner is:

“I Haven’t Forgotten You” by Leslie Blanco

Leslie Blanco’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, PANK, Calyx, finemediumandbroad, The Coachella Review, and TransAtlanticPanorama, among others. Her story “Cuba Si, Yanqui No” won an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train‘s Short Story Award for New Writers in 2017. “The Lion” was named “First Runner Up” in Los Angeles Review‘s Literary Awards Short Fiction category in 2016, and was a semi-finalist for American Short Fiction‘s Short(er) Fiction Contest in 2015. She is the recent and very grateful recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship, a Hedgebrook fellowship and a Rona Jaffe fellowship. She is the proud holder of an MFA from The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She loves travel, the diverse and universal feast of spiritual possibility, and speaking to children through invented characters born when said children press her belly button. She lives in Southern California with triplet daughters, two dogs and one husband.

And this year’s finalists were:

“Shades of Tippi Hedren Headed For a Phone Booth” by Pamela Balluck
“Eli” by Elizabeth Enochs
“Bitten” by Barney Haney
“On the Fly” by Daryl Scroggins

Now, this is usually the part where I’d encourage everyone to submit again for this year’s contest. Unfortunately, we won’t be running the contest in 2020. Reading contest submissions on top of non-contest submissions, and keeping up with other work for Big Muddy and Southeast Missouri State University Press is…a lot. This isn’t a financial decision at all, as these contests pay for themselves. Once we’ve had a bit of a breather, the contest will likely come back, but for the time being, we need a break! Thank you all for sharing your wonderful words with us, and I hope to read more from you all in the future.


The Big Muddy Editorial Team


We are excited to announce the winner of the 2019 Cowles Poetry Book Prize. The winning manuscript, selected by judge Brad Aaron Modlin, will be published in October, 2020, and the poet will be awarded $2000. We received more manuscripts this year than we ever have before, so the competition was fierce.


Look Alive by Luiza Flynn-Goodlett

Luiza Flynn-Goodlett is the author of five chapbooks, most recently Tender Age, winner of the 2019 Charlotte Mew chapbook contest, forthcoming from Headmistress Press. Her poetry can be found in Third Coast, Pleiades, The Journal, The Common, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief of Foglifter and lives in sunny Oakland, California.


Naming the Lifeboat by Justin Gardiner
Terra Incognita by Sara Henning
After by Emily Jaeger
The Right Blue Dream House
by Claire McQuerry
Soft Palate by Anna Sutton


Eat the Marrow by Mara Adamitz Scrupe
Bluebird by James CrewsBluebird by James Crews
The Amateur Scientist’s Notebook by Jesse Delong
The Likes of Us by R.M. Kinder
Revoke by Joy Manesiotis
Dawn’s Early by Gloria Muñoz
Easy Victims to the Charitable Deceptions of Nostalgia by Emily Schulten
What Falls Away Is Always by Richard Terrill
House of Broken Tables
by Allison Wilkins

The 2020 Cowles Poetry Prize is currently open for submissions. You can learn more, here.

Announcing the Winner and Finalists of the 2018 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel

Southeast Missouri State University Press is pleased to announce that Robert Long Foreman’s manuscript Weird Pig is the winner of the 2018 Nilsen Literary Prize. The prize includes $2,000 and publication of the winning manuscript by the University Press. Weird Pig will be published in October 2020.

Weird Pig is about Weird Pig, a pig who wants to do right. But doing right isn’t always easy. He drinks. He eats pork chops. He rides a skateboard. He gets his fellow farm animals murdered, and fathers an illegitimate son who has a messiah complex. When Weird Pig leaves the farm he calls home, he inspires a series of children’s books that help bring on the end of his little world—a farm where human and beast alike toil in the shadow of an ever-growing factory livestock complex. From farm to table and beyond, follow the misadventures of Weird Pig in this kaleidoscopic portrait of America, seen through the eyes of a crazed animal who insists on making himself at home there. 

Excerpts from Weird Pig, and stories featuring him, have appeared in ten magazines, including BarrelhouseThe Collagist, and Copper Nickel, where three of them won the magazine’s Editor’s Prize. One Weird Pig story was selected by Aimee Bender for inclusion in Best Small Fictions 2018.

Robert Long Foreman is the author of Among Other Things, a collection of essays, which was published in 2017 by Pleiades Press after winning the inaugural Robert C. Jones Prize for Short Prose. He has won a Pushcart Prize for fiction, and has published short stories and essays in such magazines as AgniCrazyhorseElectric Literature, and Kenyon Review Online. He has won contests at The Cincinnati Review,Willow SpringsAmerican Literary Review, and The Journal

Otherwise, the competition was fierce this year. We read a lot of great manuscripts, many not even represented on the list below. Here is a full list of finalists:


Weird Pig by Robert Long Foreman


Girl in the Moon by JJ Henderson
Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash
Songs of Gold and Shadow: A Novel by Elizabeth Dalton
Solve for N by Leah McCormach


Four Dead Horses by KT Sparks
She Never Told Me About the Ocean by Elizabeth McKetta
Water, A Novel by Naguetalti Warren
Each of Us Angels by Shaylin Montgomery
The Lighting Artist: Or, The Unfortunate History of an Information Girl by Nicola Waldron

Haesong Kwon’s The People’s Field Selected as Winner of the 2018 Cowles Poetry Prize

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS is pleased to announce that Haesong Kwon’s manuscript The People’s Field has been selected by our final judge, Jenny Yang Cropp, as the winner of the 2018 Cowles Poetry Prize. Kwon’s book will be published in fall 2019. A full list of finalists and semi-finalists is below.

 With attention to the Japanese occupation, the Korean War and its aftermath, The People’s Field reflects on the sounds, ideas and histories of the Korean peninsula. Of her selection, Cropp writes, “Kwon’s manuscript contains a paradoxical experience of both movement and stillness, history and the eternal present. These poems, short and spare, carry the intensity of distillation but resist the epigrammatic as they show us a rich and complex landscape that asks for and earns reading after reading.”

Haesong Kwon is the author of the chapbook Many Have Fallen (Cutbank Books). His poems have appeared in New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, Mid-American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Yalobusha Review, Louisville Review, Redivider and others. He lives in Shiprock, New Mexico and teaches at Diné College.

The Cowles Poetry Book Prize takes place annually, with submissions closing on April 1 each year. Southeast Missouri State University Press, founded in 2001, serves both as a publisher and as a working laboratory for students interested in learning the art and skills of literary publishing.


Inside Ball Lightning by Rainie Oet
Notes on Vanishing by Cammy Pedroja
Out of the Cosmos Factory by Tony Trigilio


Rare, Wondrous Things by Alyse Bensel
Thanksgiving Dinner in a Rich Zip Code by Stephanie Brown
Ten Thousand Volts by Richard Cecil
An Expectation of Broken Things by Reese Conner
The Dreams of Weapons by Melissa Ginsburg
Gadfly Apocrypha by Brad Johnson
A More Country by Claire McQuerry
Sharks vs. Selfies by Martin Ott
I Will Tell All Myself by Todd Osborne
Compass for Hands by Bret Shepard
Shorless by Enid Shomer
You Are Still Alive by William Stobb
Playing House on the Bones by Anna Sutton
The Inscrutable World by M. A. Vizsolyi
Guilt Ledger by Ross White
Local Talent by Jacob Wright

It was a pleasure reading everyone’s work!


Announcing the 2017 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel Winner and Finalists

Southeast Missouri State University Press is thrilled to announce the winner and finalists of our Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. This was the first year that the contest was held through Submittable, and we found that it really sped up the process. If it seems like we’re announcing the winner earlier than usual, that has a lot to do with it, but much of the credit for that goes to our fantastic interns and Graduate Assistants who worked hard all fall and the first month and a half of spring semester to read through the many, many wonderful manuscripts we received, to help pick our finalists and winner. Without further ado, then, here are the results:


Avery Colt is a Snake, A Thief, A Liar by Ron Austin

Austin’s semi-autobiographical, linked story collection follows the misadventures of Avery Colt as he  struggles to survive in North St. Louis alongside his family. Learning the best way to slaughter a goat, rebuilding his family’s corner market, and reckoning the weight of a revolver are a few of the challenges Avery faces. As he matures through each page, Avery takes control of his circumstances and attempts dangerous feats of alchemy. By confronting his own fears and limitations, he seeks to transform cruelty into compassion, rind into fruit, despair into hope. Charged with urgency and emotion, Austin’s prose faithfully renders a community determined to overcome crisis with strength, dark humor, and plenty of heart. The book will be published in Fall 2019.

Stories from the collection have been published in Black Warrior Review, Natural Bridge, Draft Horse, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, december, The Masters Review, Ninth Letter, Cog, Tahoma Literary Review, and Story Quarterly.


Ron A. Austin holds a MFA from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has served as an editor for december and River Styx, and is a 2016 Regional Arts Commission Fellow. He has taught creative writing at the Pierre Laclede Honors College. He, his partner Jennie, and son Elijah live in St. Louis with a whippet named Carmen.


We Eat This Gold by Chris Drew
Weird Pig
by Robert Long Foreman
A Sensual Guide to Housekeeping by Jeff Hayden
The Last Innocent Year: Stories by Kerry Jones
Someday Everything Will All Make Sense by Carol LaHines
Boys and Girls by Jane McDermott

Thank you all for your entries. Next year’s contest is open as of now. We can’t wait to read what you send!

Announcing the Winners of Big Muddy’s Might River Short Story Contest and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest

We are excited to announce the winners of Big Muddy’s annual Mighty River Short Story Contest and the Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest. See the winners and finalists below!

Mighty River Short Story Contest


“Halloween, 2001” by Giovanna Varela

Giovanna Varela’s work is severely influenced by her hometown of Central Florida. She is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at The New School, and an MFA in film production at Emerson College. Her pilot script, “Flamingo City,” won 2nd place in Nevada International Film Festival’s 2017 TV screenplay competition. Her flash fiction has been published in Folio, Literary Juice, Rock & Sling, and the Owen Wister Review, and is forthcoming in Southern Indiana Review and Moon City Review


“Nature Programs” by Richard Bartel
“Lunar Hymns” by Ryan Boyle
“Love Me Through a Hurricane” by Amina Gautier
“Many Other Ways to Die” by Lisa McKenzie

Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Contest


“Story, Baby” by Kate Simonian

Kate Osana Simonian is an Armenian-Australian writer of fiction and essays. She attends the English PhD program at Texas Tech as a Presidential Fellow. In 2017, she received the Nelson Algren Award and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers Conference. Her work has been published by, or is forthcoming in, Ninth Letter, The Kenyon Review Online, The Chicago Tribune, and The Best Australian Stories.


“Lies” by Andi Boyd
“Hearts & Spades” by Ryan Boyle
“What a Drag it is Getting Old (M. Jagger) by Yvonne Fein
“El Pobrecito on Catolico Street” by Mario Padilla

Congratulations to the winners and finalists!

Next year’s contests are open for submissions. For more information, see our events and contests page.


Avalialble Now: Writing By American Warriors, Volume 6

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, vol. 6 will be out soon and we have a pre-order page up for it. Have a look for a list of contest winners and included pieces:

Proud to Be: Writing By American Warriors, Volume 6